Dear UNAVSA-12,

It is a little prolonged but I wanted to some how convey my feelings to you all and my experiences of the past week.

During closing ceremony and Positive Sparks, as I sat anxiously twiddling my thumbs, a female came up from behind and embraced me tightly. Up until that point, I had not shed a single tear, only my lip was quivering from holding down my emotional dam, until she whispered in my ear while grasping my body tighter. “I’m so proud of what you have done for your region, and I cannot believe how far you have come.”

I lost all physical and bodily defense.

I remember listening to the tail end of her words as I rocked back and forth to maintain my composure but the tears kept running to the side of my cheeks. Amidst the rocking, a male came and hugged me this time. As he held me, I clung to him and murmured “we did it”, “we did it”. The male voice attempted to convey his sincerity in between his sobbing spells. “You can’t believe how proud I am of you and for what you have done. Don’t ever forget that”. We clung onto one another for a moment longer until I regained the strength to conceptualize his words on my own. My rocking continued and my oscillated between two thoughts: 1) my disbelief of utter, pure happiness and 2) the tangled knot of guilt lodged in my throat.

Guilt derived from my self-doubt of my potential as a leader and of my region. I had not worked as hard or dedicated extensive time to the region and its members in lieu of my status as a fifth year student. Days grew longer, climaxing with high anxiety and plummeting with low rewards. Yet I kept my spirit high and day-dreamed about the month of June. UNAVSA coming to the Northwest was a mere Disneyland fantasy a poor kid dreamed about in her deep slumber on a mangled, decaying bed. Yet the impossible can transform into the impeccable.

I had stopped rocking back and forth to compel myself, instead I took a slow, crisp breath in and let the exhalation escape without trembling anxiety. The constriction from pressure of guilt faded, a burst of relief surged my body as another individual embraced and showered me with their love; I finally lived in moment for once.

I managed to crack a smile to myself, the revelation clung to each dopamine receptor possible in my brain; UNAVSA is about community and this community unites to form as one, to continue to carry the history and embeds its legacy to the proceeding generation of advocator, allies, and educators. UNAVSA believed in the Northwest region’s thriving potential, development of leadership and our everlasting gumption to further build upon our legacy. Inspiration by observation was the true theme of this past weekend and the hefty impact UNAVSA-12 has gifted me.

As closing ceremony concluded, we said our brief and momentary farewells, snapped our vain selfies, I left the ballroom with energy from my soul being lifted. I retained a small smile as I walked down the concourse of the hotel and ran into a mentor. He asked me how I felt that conference is over. All I could do was keep that dopey smile spread across my face. Being the realist he was, he said “in about a few minutes, this hotel will begin to empty our, exponentially. All these people will be gone and so will the energy”. I replied as I drew out my left arm, extending out my pointer finger and poked his chest twice, just above his heart: “yeah I know that. . . . but the feeling there. . . . it will never fade”.

This experience has made me a firm believer that it does start with me and yoUNAVSA.